Algeria is in North Africa, on the Mediterranean Sea, between Morocco and Tunisia. It is mostly high plateau and desert with some mountains, and a narrow, discontinuous coastal plain. The highest point is Mount Tahat at 2,908 meters (9,541 feet). Following the break up of Sudan and South Sudan, Algeria became the largest country in Africa. The Mediterranean coastline stretches more than 1,200 kilometers (746 miles), much of it undeveloped.
Environmental issues include soil erosion from overgrazing and other poor farming practices, desertification, water pollution of rivers and coastal waters due to dumping of raw sewage, petroleum refining wastes, and other industrial effluents. Both the Seybouse River basin and the Mediterranean Sea are becoming polluted from oil wastes, soil erosion, and fertilizer runoff. There are inadequate supplies of potable water. Most information about environmental issues in Algeria is in French language, such as Nature et Biodiversite Algerienne, Nouara and Saida Nature.
In terms of ecoregions, Algeria consists mainly of Mediterranean coast, deserts and scrublands, and flooded grasslands and savannas, including 3 million hectares (7.4 million acres) of wetlands. Ramsar wetlands of international importance include Chott Ech Chergui, Chott Melrhir, and the well known Tassili n’Ajjer – which is also both Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage. There are 6 official Biosphere Reserves, all of which are also national parks (see below). Other national parks include Belezma National Park, Théniet El Had National Park, and Tlemcen National Park. Endangered wildlife includes the serval, a small leopard-like wild cat, Mediterranean monk seals, Algerian wild dogs and a species of bat.
The Hoggar Mountains (Ahaggar National Park) are known for trekking. Timtar Expeditions is a travel agency in Tamanrasset, an oasis city and capital of Tamanrasset Province. Bachir Hafach, known as Touareg Bachir, is an expedition guide based in Djanet, an oasis city in Illizi Province. Sahara-Eliki not only organizes camel caravan experiences during the high season, from October to May, but also helps visitors sponsor a cameleer through an innovative “camel owner plan”.
- Tassili N’Ajjer (Tassili n’Ajjer National Park)
- El Kala (El Kala National Park)
- Djurdjura (Djurdjura National Park)
- Chrea (Chréa National Park)
- Taza (Taza National Park)
- Gouraya (Gouraya National Park)
- Association Ecologique de Boumerdes
- Ministère de l’Aménagement du Territoire et de l`Environnement (matev.gov.dz)
- Mouvement écologique algérien
Berbers were identified by the Romans as the indigenous people of what is today Algeria. Berber territory was annexed by the Roman Empire around the time of Christ. Islamization did not start until the 8th century. In the 16th century, several towns and outposts along the coast were conquered and occupied by the Spanish, until sold to the Ottomans in the 18th century. Algeria was a province of the Ottoman Empire for 300 years. As Ottoman control waned, the Barbary States as they were known went to war twice against the United States in the early 19th century, over Mediterranean piracy and enslaving Christians. Subsequently, the French began their colonization, creating the borders of today’s Algeria.
Following WWI, Algerian nationalism with Islamic leadership began to rise. Actually on Victory in Europe Day, at the close of WWII, Islamic nationalists were massacred in large numbers by the French, which ultimately lead to the brutal Algerian War of Independence (1954–1962). France declared Algeria independent in 1962. The decade long Algerian Civil War broke out in 1991, as a result of the surging political popularity of the now banned Islamic Salvation Front. Algeria’s 19 year state of emergency was officially lifted in 2011.
Today, human rights in Algeria are closely scrutinized by the international community. The U.S. State Department characterizes the crime rate as moderate. In 2003, 32 European tourists were abducted in the Algerian Sahara, but eventually released in two groups. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is known to still be active in southern Algeria. Overland travel between Algeria and Morocco is not possible; as, those borders have been closed since 1994.
The archeology of Algeria is rich, particularly with the rock art of south Oran and rock art of the Djelfa region. There are 7 sites listed as cultural World Heritage (see below). Tassili n’Ajjer is mixed cultural and natural World Heritage. The Office National de Gestion et d’exploitation des Biens Culturels Protégés, under the Ministère de la Culture, is in charge of protecting cultural property. There are quite a few museums available in the capital city of Algiers, including the Museum of Antiquities, Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions (musee-mnatp.art.dz), and the National Museum of Fine Arts. In the northeast town of Constantine, there is also the Musée National CIRTA de Constantine, highlighting the local Phoenician heritage.
Living culture includes the Berber music of Kabylie, and the Raï folk music of Oran. There is also an annual Arab film festival in Oran, the Festival d’Oran du Film Arabe. FiSahara is an annual film festival which takes place in the Sahrawi refugee camps (Tindouf Camps).
The Association pour la protection de la nature et de l’environnement (APNE) is reportedly developing ecotourism around Constantine; however, according to certain Algerian tourism authorities, rural tourism is the future of tourism for Algeria. Algeria has published a master plan for tourism development, Le Schéma Directeur d’Aménagement Touistique 2030. There are both a Ministère du Tourisme et de l’Artisanat and an Office National du Tourisme. SIAHA is the annual Algerian tourism trade show in Oran.
The Trans-Sahara Highway is paved all the way from Algiers to the Niger border, and goes as far as Lagos, Nigeria. Algeria does have an extensive railway network, Société Nationale des Transports Ferroviaires, but primarily in the north along the Mediterranean coast. The capital also has an extensive urban transport network, the Algiers Metro. Acciona Trasmediterránea runs regular ferry service across the Mediterranean between Oran and Almeria, Spain. Air Algérie flies to 28 countries, as well as 32 domestic airports.
- CNRA – Centre national de recherche en archéologie
- Commission nationale algérienne pour l’éducation, la science et la culture
- Fondation Déserts du Monde
- Ministère de la Culture
- Programme des Nations Unies pour le Développement – UNDP
- Université d’Alger
- Impact of cultural globalization on the tourism sector in Algeria by BM Hariri, 2011
- The national strategy of tourism development in Algeria: issues, opportunities and limitations by K Bouadam, 2011
- The economic issue of tourism: Algerian and socio-economic conditions of sustainable development in Algeria by S Boumendjel, 2010
- The Life Cycle Model and It’s Uses in the Tourism Field The Case of Algeria by AA Al, 2010
- Desert tourism as a substitute for pastoralism? Tuareg in Algeria and Bedouin in Jordan by G Chatelard, 2005
- Tourism competition of Mediterranean countries. The new Algerian deal. by J Reby, 1987